'A Wrinkle in Time' 50 years later(Read article summary)
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Madeleine L'Engle classic "A Wrinkle in Time."
Thanks to author Madeleine Lâ€™Engle, many readers know exactly what â€śtesseractâ€ť means.
At least they think they know. In real life, "tesseract" is actually a geometry concept. But in pop culture, the word is inextricably linked to time travel and Lâ€™Engleâ€™s classic novel â€śA Wrinkle in Time,â€ť which celebrates its 50h anniversary this year. A special edition of the book will be released tomorrow, with extras that include the text of Lâ€™Engleâ€™s Newbery Medal acceptance speech, an introduction by â€śBridge to Teribithiaâ€ť author Katherine Paterson, and an afterword by Lâ€™Engleâ€™s granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis.
In the novel, main character Meg Murryâ€™s father left on a government mission months ago but has gone missing. Then, one night during a thunderstorm, Meg and her family are visited by a mysterious woman who introduces herself as Mrs Whatsit. Mrs Whatsit and her companions convince Meg, Megâ€™s brother Charles Wallace, and Megâ€™s friend Calvin that they must embark on a journey to find Meg and Charles Wallaceâ€™s father and save him from a terrible evil.
In addition to winning the Newbery Medal, â€śA Wrinkle in Timeâ€ť was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award and won the Sequoyah Book Award and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. The book was the first in a series by Lâ€™Engle about the Murry family which consisted of four other books. The first, â€śA Wind in the Door,â€ť follows Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin as they meet a cherubim and fight off new villains, creatures called Echthroi. The next book in the series, â€śA Swiftly Tilting Planet,â€ť jumps ahead several years to a time when Charles Wallace must save the world from a dangerous dictator. In â€śMany Waters,â€ť Meg and Charles Wallaceâ€™s brothers Sandy and Dennys are transported back to Biblical times, and the last book in the series, â€śAn Acceptable Time,â€ť details the adventures of one of the members of the next generation of the family, a girl named Polly.
Despite time travel and other science fiction plot devices, Lâ€™Engle biographer Leonard Marcus says the bookâ€™s major theme is Megâ€™s love for her family, the most powerful weapon she possesses in the fight against the evil IT.
â€śAt its core itâ€™s about a girlâ€™s love for her father,â€ť Marcus said in an interview with The New York Times. â€śAnd that emotional level transcends the genre aspect of the book.â€ť
While still beloved by many readers, â€śA Wrinkle in Timeâ€ť is also one of the most frequently banned books in the United States, according to a list released by the American Library Association. In the ALAâ€™s list of â€ś100 Most Frequently Banned Booksâ€ť for the decade of 1990 to 1999, Lâ€™Engleâ€™s novel came in at number 23. Critics say the bookâ€™s battle between good and evil reflects badly on religion.
But banning the book hasnâ€™t stopped it from being deeply embedded in pop culture â€“ and itâ€™s not going away anytime soon. â€śA Wrinkle in Timeâ€ť has been adapted into play form, and a film version was produced by several companies in Canada and aired in the United States on ABC in 2004. The movie starred actress Katie Stuart as Meg, David Dorfman as Charles Wallace, and â€śEverwoodâ€ť actor Gregory Smith as Calvin. (Lâ€™Engle, who died in 2007, saw the film and later said, â€śI expected it to be bad, and it is.â€ť) Later, the book cropped up on the popular ABC television series â€śLost,â€ť which was famous for referencing classic works of literature. (Con man Sawyer read the book while stranded on the island). A feature film adaptation of â€śA Wrinkle in Timeâ€ť is currently in production at Disney.
And future generations? Author Melissa Wiley, who writes for the blog GeekMom, says she loved the novel so much she couldnâ€™t wait to share it with her kids, who devoured it as quickly as she did and clamored for the sequels.
â€śTessering â€“ what a marvel!â€ť Wiley wrote of the book. â€śAnd all those Camazotz kids bouncing their balls in perfect unison! Remember how your heart pounded when that one boy lost control of his ball and it went rolling into the street, and his mother totally panicked? I swear, my heart is beating faster right now, just thinking about it. Because this is a book that still tessers me to another world.â€ť
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.